Lands Acquisition Act ‘needs amendements’

The Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act needs to be amended in two important ways, Ballina MP Don Page has told landowners at Newrybar.

Speaking at a symposium of landowners affected by the Pacific Highway upgrade, Mr Page said two amendments were necessary ‘to deliver justice for landowners because they’re not getting it now’.

The two amendments are:

* For landowners whose land is being acquired by the Government (RTA in this case), the Government should not have the right to keep landowners in a state for years where they can’t sell their land because of the proposed dual carriageway and the RTA is under no obligation to buy them out.

Mr Page said this occurs because the obligation to buy directly affected landowners does not apply until very late in the process when the Minister for Planning gives final planning approval.

It takes several years between the announcement of the ‘preferred route’ and final Ministerial approval, he said.

“This is because an EIS has to be done, comment is received on the EIS from the public and Government agencies, a review of all those submissions is done, a Representations Report is produced and finally a request for consent goes to the Minister for Planning with suggested conditions attached. Finally the Planning Minister signs off,” Mr Page said

“I believe once the preferred route is determined, the blight exists and those affected should be able to trigger the acquisition clauses which require the Government to purchase if that is their desire. People should not be left in limbo for years unable to sell and with no obligation on the RTA to buy.” Mr Page said.

* Landowners whose land is not required for acquisition but live beside or near the road suffer the impact of noise, pollution and loss of property value both during construction phase and afterwards. These people currently are not entitled to any compensation whatsoever.

“This is unjust and unfair,” Mr Page said.

“I believe the legislation should be amended to allow for compensation when a landowner can demonstrate ‘injurious affectation’.

“Such a clause would enable those who genuinely suffer as a result of the upgraded highway to be treated fairly. Currently they are not.”

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